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Black History Month 2021

Jennifer L Brown11 October 2021

We are in Black History month 2021 and it has taken me 11 days to decide should I write a blog? What will I say?  Should Black history be recognised for one month? And the list goes on… But I could not let the month past without saying anything. So here it is ……….the blog.

I am sure that I have said this before but I will say it again…whilst I believe black heritage should always be celebrated rather than allocated to one month of the year, it is a great opportunity to focus upon great achievements and history which is still until this day at times often overlooked, disregarded and forgotten about.

When we speak of diversity and inclusion we (speaking generally here) need to really understand what it means. For example, this may mean being able to attend work in your cultural attire, wearing an afro, locs, head wrap, speaking in your native dialect at times etc without feeling that you will be judged/looked down upon, or face micro aggression.  

My dialect is Jamaican patios which some describe as a form of broken English and occasionally it slips out and I have an ‘oh dear’ moment which is synchronized with  slight embarrassment that comes over me. But as I sit here writing I ask myself why? I am not swearing or using offensive language. I am of Jamaican heritage that’s me and that’s my culture, can’t take that away from me. It is who I am.

Sometimes black people have to wear a mask in the workplace and not bring their authentic self. Why ? to be accepted, to fit in, to be promoted and so forth. This doesn’t demonstrate inclusion, masking your true self means that you are still not accepted and included unless you conform to what is considered the ‘norm’.

This blog is not just about me, no,  it is about the lived experience of ‘others’, the ‘others’ who have become so weary, the ‘others’ who want to be accepted, the ‘others’ that want to be seen, the others who want to be heard, the ‘others’ who don’t want to rock the boat, the ‘others’ that don’t want to have to do twice as much in the workplace to receive recognition, the ‘others’ who are burnt out because they do so much to compensate, the ‘others’ who are sick and tired of being sick and tired, the ‘others’ who are fearful and the ‘others’ that have a lot to say but do not have the platform or voice to do so.

So here I am writing this on behalf of the ‘others.’

You might be one of the ‘others’ reading this blog, you might be one who has seen the struggles or you might be one that has caused the struggles. Whichever category you fall into this blog is for you.

To the ‘others’ – I have seen you, I have listened and I heard you. Persevere.

Motivational quote

One of the hardest things to do is change someone’s mindset but I am a strong believer that educating one is key. It may take time but through persistence, innovation, consistency and allyship it can be achieved.

Music

Joseph Bologne Chevalier Saint Georges (b. 1745, d,1799) the composer was born in Guadeloupe and made his debut as a violinist and composer.

Here is a link to Violin Concertos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmiuh_OL2Zg which I think is exquisite.

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson an African American women who was not only a mathematical genius but was instrumental in NASA’s Mercury program (1961-1963).

In 1961, Katherine calculated the path for Freedom 7, the spacecraft that placed the first U.S. astronaut in space.

The 2016 movie called ‘Hidden figures’ is based upon the true story of the three female African–American (including Katherine) whom played a vital role in John Glenn (the astronaut) launching into orbit despite the discrimination they faced within the workplace.

Madam C.J. Walker – 1867-1919

Madam C.J. Walker born Sarah Breedlove was an African American entrepreneur who invented a line of best selling hair products. She became the first female self-made millionaire in the American Guinness book of record.

In 2020 Netflix released a series entitled ‘Self-made’ which was inspired by the life of Madam C.J. Walker, definitely one to watch.

Events:

I am looking forward to attending a range of events some can be found below.

Black History Season: Black London; History, Art and Culture

20th October 2021 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-history-season-black-london-history-art-and-culture-tickets-175334087977?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

St Paul’s/Bank Black History Walk 31st October 2021

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/st-paulsbank-black-history-walk-tickets-176826953177?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Black London: History, Art and Culture: with Avril 28th October 2021 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-london-history-art-and-culture-with-avril-tickets-168451734673?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Black London: History, Art & Culture with by Avril Nanton and Jody Burton 3rd November 2021 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-london-history-art-culture-with-by-avril-nanton-and-jody-burton-tickets-169768322623?aff=ebdssbdestsearch&keep_tld=1

 

My mini book list:

Small Island (2004) by Andrea Levy

With hope in their eyes (1998) by Vivienne Francis

Happy Sexy Millionaire (2021) Steve Bartlett

The Value in the Valley (1995) by Iyanla Vanzant

Mary Seacole (2005) by Jane Robinson

Becoming (2018) by Michelle Obama

 

I hope Black History Month 2021 will be insightful and impactful for all.

Bye (‘Lickkle More’ in Jamaican Patios) 😊

 

Jennifer Brown Chartered MCIPD BPsS

Chair of Library Services Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

 

UCL Library Services Staff Summer School – initial programme and some bookings now open

Angela Young26 May 2021

The UCL Library Services Staff Summer School is a series of training and development sessions, events and online activities aimed at library staff from across UCL Library Services, to support them in answering enquiries and in providing support, training and advocacy to library users and stakeholders.

This year the entire programme will be delivered online throughout June and July, with a mixture of self-directed online learning and live sessions. Here is a taster of what’s on offer, with more sessions to be announced soon:

  • Introduction to digital accessibility (Wednesday 9 June – Wednesday 21 July, self-directed online learning).
  • Creating videos: an introduction (Thursday 10th June, 10.00-12.00)
  • Blended learning by design (Monday 28th June, 10:00-11:00)
  • LibAnswers and LibChat: Developing our online enquiry service (Tuesday 13 July, 11:00-12:00)
  • eXperience eXchange and Feeback from FestivIL (Tuesday 20th July, 10:00-12:00)

Full details are available:

Sessions are open to all UCL Library Services staff, with the permission of your line manager.

Angela Young, Head of Library Skills

Library Services code of conduct and a couple of bullying and harassment guidelines.

Grazia Manzotti16 April 2021

Dear Colleagues on behalf of the Library Survey Action Group I wanted to share with you again three documents, that you ay all find useful. The first one is the Library Services code of conduct document. It  outlines the Library’s expectations of all Library staff regarding their behaviour towards colleagues. Whilst the UCL Library Services aims to be a place of freedom of expression and open communication, adherence to this code will ensure an inclusive, friendly, respectful and collaborative environment. Library Services Code of Conduct.

The second document is a document for managers, These are brief guidelines to help a manager  to know what to do if bullying or harassment is reported to them  and are aimed at achieving resolution informally. They do not replace the UCL Guidelines. Bullying-harassment Guidelines for managers.

The last document gives brief guidelines giving options of what you can do if you witness bullying or harassment, some people have found it really helpful. Bullying-Harassment Guidelines for bystanders

Calling male allies – event on Friday 16/04

Benjamin Meunier14 April 2021

Colleagues may recall the foundation the Astrea in 2013, by Emma Todd and Alice Chilver. I remember Emma and Alice jointly presenting the new network at the Professional Services conference that year. Since then, Alice has founded WHEN (Women’s Higher Education Network) to promote equity of opportunity for women in higher education at a national level.

WHEN organised an event on “Leveraging Male Allies” shortly before the Easter break, which I attended in part, however it was cut short by a technical glitch. They have re-arranged the meeting for Friday 16th April, 13.00-14.00 (details below), which I recommend to any colleagues – and male colleagues in particular – on how we can work together to achieve gender equality in our university and in Library Services.

You can register on the WHEN webpages.

Soon to be launched UCL New Agency Temporary recruitment process

Faith Udeze12 February 2021

Soon to be launched UCL New Agency Temporary recruitment process

UCL is introducing a process to manage the recruitment of all Agency (contingency) workers through a single service provider supported by a network of approved Agencies on UCL’s preferred supplier list (PSL). The new system will manage every stage of the recruitment process including: advertising and sourcing candidates (either directly or through preferred supplier list); shortlisting CVs; carrying out compliance and Right to Work checks; purchase orders, on-boarding and managing relationships with and supporting temporary workers. UCL is aiming to launch this new service 22 March 2021

This new process will replace the current UCL recruitment process for temporary workers, managed via a new Beeline Vendor Management system (VMS). It includes some system user functionality for Library managers as timesheet approvals only. Access and training to the new VMS system will be provided before the go-live date

Unitemp will continue to provide in-house temporary recruitment for all student roles or Alumni direct bookings where Unitemps is the preferred approach

Further updates will be provided as soon is available. More information can be found via the link

Questions can be directed to Library HR (Faith Udeze)

Nominate an exceptional colleague or team for a UCL Education Award

Angela Young11 February 2021

Do you know a colleague or team within Library Services that makes an outstanding contribution to the learning experience and success of our students? Then take a moment to nominate them for this year’s UCL Education Awards.

The UCL Education Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of staff and their contributions to our learning community, with a focus on the work of colleagues that is less visible to students, so work that has enabled excellent practice or facilitated innovation in teaching and learning. Nominations will be judged on evidence of impact and examples demonstrating excellence in various categories, including:

  • Academic support, with a focus on personal tutoring and/or research supervision
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Education success for all
  • Eliminating awarding gaps
  • Outstanding response to teaching and/or support during a pandemic
  • Staff-student partnership

How do nominations work?

Nominations are made within a department and then each UCL department may submit one individual and one team nomination for each category from the nominations they have received.

We are now inviting nominations from across Library Services, from which the Library Skills Steering Group will select the final nominations for Library Services.

To nominate a colleague or team, please download and complete the appropriate form (Word document) for an individual or team in Step 1 on the UCL Education Awards webpage and send by email to Angela Young. Please do NOT complete the ‘Step two’ forms on that page as these are for the final nominations from each department. The deadline for submission of nominations to Library Services is Wednesday 31st March to allow time for the Library Skills Steering Group to decide on final nominations and submit by 12th April.

Why nominate a colleague or team?

This is your chance to ensure your colleague or a library team gets the acknowledgement they deserve, so they can be rewarded and celebrate in their achievements whilst highlighting to the wider UCL community the impact that library staff have on the experience and success of our students.

Work life balance approval checklist

Jennifer L Brown16 December 2020

UCL lettering outside the Student Centre

In order to aid with the decision making process when considering work life balance requests we have produced a new checklist for Library managers which complements UCL’s Work life balance policy.

The document also includes guidance for managers in terms of the process once they receive a request.

The checklist entitled Work life balance approval checklist can now be found on LibNet.

Celebrating Black History Month 2020

Nazlin Bhimani15 October 2020

The Library Services EDI Committee would like to highlight some content you may find interesting as we continue to celebrate Black History Month 2020 (BHM2020).

You may not be aware but UCL’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health have a newsletter which lists interesting online events, provides summaries on Black historical figures, highlights literature, and poetry and even shares recipes. The archive of the newsletter is available but you can subscribe to it to receive a copy in your mailbox.

Goldsmith’s Library, in conjunction with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture, is putting together an online event entitled ‘Liberating & Decolonising Historical Minds’ for 29th October. It features some interesting speakers including the historian and librarian Dr Elizabeth Williams. Do sign up for it if you can take the time off to listen to what promises to be a relevant discussion for us.

At the IOE Library, the BAME Resources LibGuide has been updated for BLH2020 and includes relevant content for schools such as Black historian David Olusoga’s Black History We’re Not Taught in Schools and the Black Curriculum created by Lavinya Stennett who worked with over one thousand teachers in schools, as well as the IOE’s Teach First lecturers, to come up with the curriculum.

John Amaechi’s talk on ‘The Big Questions on Race’ at the online RIBA Inclusion by Design Festival took place as part of Inclusion Week (28th September to 2nd October 2020). Amaechi, a former NBA basketball player, is an organisational psychologist and best-selling author. He recently caused a stir with his short talks on BBC Bitesize answering difficult questions such as What is White Privilege? and explaining the difference between being Non-Racist and Anti-Racist. More recently he gave an interview on TimesRadio where he highlights the everyday racism he and members of the Black community experience.

The RIBA talk is an eye-opener and recommended to anyone who is interested in organisational cultures and change (register with RIBA). Amaechi focused on how to be an ally to Black and Brown staff and how to work on being anti-racist (it doesn’t come naturally). To demonstrate how unconscious biases are appropriated, he showed the audience a video of ‘‘The Doll Test’ experiment which was conducted in 1940 by a group of US psychologists. By the age of four, children have already decided that Black / Asian / mixed-race people are ‘not good’. It is therefore important for us to be vigilant of our unconscious biases – and stand by our values for simply intending to be anti-racist is not good enough. Anti-racists should communicate their values in the workplace making it clear that they will not tolerate racism or any form inequality whether it relates to homophobia, islamophobia, misogyny, sexism, disability, etc. Amaechi does not beat about the bush. On nepotism, he says, if people get promoted to jobs because of the people they know, that a sure sign that the organisation has a problem. Additionally, those that are tired about talking about race after a mere three months (since George Floyd’s death) are the problem. Change needs to happen now because Black and Brown people have waited centuries for change and asking them to wait longer is akin to letting them watch a group gorging themselves whilst they are kept hungry. This, he says, is the indignity of racism. Listen to Amaechi – the clarity of his arguments surpasses other speakers on racism.

Addendum: John Amaechi’s talk on LinkedIn is here – this one focuses on how to be an ally.

 

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris3 July 2020

UCL Library Committee

Library Committee met virtually on 25 June by Microsoft Teams. It was the probably the first time in the Committee’s long history that this distinguished body had not met physically in a committee room.

One of the items on the agenda was the termly Report from me as Pro-Vice Provost. The Report from the Pro-Vice-Provost  can be seen behind the link. I used the usual structure, reporting against the 6 KPIs of the current Library Strategy, but I fashioned the narrative to reflect the extraordinary events that we have all been experiencing.

The coronavirus crisis led to lockdown in UCL Library Services, with closure of library sites beginning on 17
March. With senior colleagues we quickly agreed a set of themes which would underpin our work:

1. Electronic-led resource provision to support research and education
2. Digitally-delivered teaching and skills support
3. Fully digital enquiry services, which require a proper enquiry management platform
4. Open Science as the model for the future
5. Optimization of learning spaces
6. Research collection strategy in a digital era

These values continue to underpin our work as we develop our service provision to embrace the principle of digital-first in both research and education. It is the move fully to embed digital delivery in our education offering which is exciting, supported by £1.38 million of new money to purchase e-textbooks and to upscale our work on ReadingLists@UCL.

I would like to use this opportunity further to underline the Library’s commitment to supporting colleagues in #BlackLivesMatter. I am, as many of you probably know, a Tudor historian who publishes on sixteenth-century England. I wish here to put on record my repugnance at the views on race expressed this week by another Tudor historian, Dr David Starkey. Starkey’s views are repugnant to me and are completely at variance with UCL’s position.

In Newsletter 12, published today, our colleague Amad Uddin has told us about his team’s experiences in re-opening the Student Centre. He says: ‘I feel proud that Library Services have been involved in the first pilot [in re-opening UCL spaces] as it’s crucial we get back to some sense of normality. We are pioneers, what we learn from this pilot, the good and bad, will help other buildings open in the near future as restrictions get eased.’

Stay well, stay safe and I hope we will all be able to meet again in UCL in the coming weeks.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

 

Supporting Black staff at UCL

Benjamin Meunier26 June 2020

In case you missed it in our daily comms, please find below some additional guidance and support so that we can all help further race equality at UCL.

Supporting Black staff at work

The UCL Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team have produced guidance to line managers on supporting their Black staff. This is also a resource for colleagues, and we commend it for all Library Services staff to read and take action based on the guidance to create an environment which is more supportive of our Black staff and students. 

Managers Guidance – Supporting Black staff at Work

There are many societal issues currently that may be impacting upon Black staff and their sense of wellbeing.  These issues are not new, Black staff deal with them all the time, every day of their lives.  However, there are a number of issues that have brought the presence of racism to the fore in recent weeks. The guidance references the work of sociologist Robin DiAngelo in her book “White Fragility”. To find out more, you could view this video of a reading of the book by the author, hosted by Seattle Central Library in 2018.

It is important at this time to check in with Black staff, ask how they are doing and offer them support. Having conversations about racism is everyone’s responsibility.  For those who are unfamiliar with doing this, the guide may be of some help. This guide is only part of a range of resources and measures to support our Black staff at this time.  It is not presented as a solution in its own right.

Free mental health therapy available for Black people in the UK

Black Minds Matter UK has announced they are providing Black people in the UK with free therapy with Black mental health professionals. Details are available at https://www.blackmindsmatteruk.com/